Arla completes ‘big data’ Scope 3 emissions footprint on road to net-zero

Data from more than 8

Back in 2019, Arla announced the net-zero goal, underpinned by a science-based target to reduce emissions per kilo of milk by 30%.

The firm has today (26 April) announced that it has received and analysed data from more than 8,100 supplier farms, relating to metrics such as what kinds of fuels are used, how many animals are owned, what they are fed, which fertilisers are used and how waste is managed.  These answers have been translated into externally verified carbon figures.

Arla believes that the average dairy farm in its supply chain produces 1.15kg of CO2e for every kilogram of milk produced. For the most efficient farms, the carbon figure stands at 0.9kg. The FAO’s global average is 2.5kg, for context.

From June, the data will be made available to all farmers via a digital platform, enabling them to compare their footprint with farms in similar geographies and/or of similar size. They can use this to gain specific recommendations for improvement. This process will be called ‘Climate Checks’.

In the meantime, Arla has outlined five universal steps that any dairy farm can take to lower emissions. They are improving milk yield with optimised feeding; preventing food waste; prolonging animal life and improving animal welfare; precise fertiliser management and improved land use management. Arla has been keen to emphasise that British and European dairy is already lower-carbon than the global average, but that more progress is needed to meet national net-zero targets.

Arla’s chairman Jan Toft Nørgaard said the work will help accelerate farm decarbonization while also “driving an effective transition for the whole industry”.

He also said the figures are “not a final result, but a baseline from where we need to improve” and that the platform is “a tool to guide our next steps, to accumulate more insight and transparently measure our progress going forward”.

Earlier this month, Danone subsidiary Horizon Organic, the largest USDA certified organic dairy brand in the world, publicly disclosed the summary of life cycle assessments (LCA) for its whole milk half gallons, in a bid to outline areas of improvement as it strives to become “carbon positive” by 2025.

Sarah George

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